|Murphy Abigail Shuler, the schnauzer|
who inspired a top 50 law blog
Why does this matter? A look at a 2012 ranking of "The Top 50 Independent Law Blogs in North America" provides perspective. And it suggests Legal Schnauzer might be the only blog of its kind in the Unites States and Canada. To be sure, the number of like blogs is extremely small.
Cision, a Chicago-based social media/marketing firm, compiled the ranking, and we were pleased to discover that Legal Schnauzer came in at No. 37. Actually, we were more than pleased; we were stunned, almost speechless--and regular readers know that is an unusual state for us.
How many law blogs are there in North America? We don't know, but our research indicates they number well into the hundreds of thousands; wouldn't be surprised if it tops a million. To think that a one-man operation like Legal Schnauzer could break through all of that clutter to reach the top 50 . . . well, I'm still dumbfounded--especially when you consider I did nothing to push for inclusion in the Cision survey, and I didn't even know it was taking place.
Perhaps the most curious element of the Cision rankings is its use of the word "independent" to describe the blogs on the list. I've read everything I can find about Cision and its surveys, but I still don't know what they mean by "independent law blogs." My best guess is that it refers to legal blogs that are not attached to any form of mainstream media, such as a newspaper, magazine, or broadcast outlet.
I've researched each blog in the top 50 and discovered many of them are not as "independent" as it might appear--certainly not when compared to the kind of independence we have here at Legal Schnauzer. In fact, it appears that LS is one of only two blogs on the list that could be called truly independent.
Do most of the blogs on the Cision list receive some sort of institutional support? The answer is a yes, and here is a breakdown:
* Of the 50 blogs, 47 are written by lawyers; those lawyers are connected to law firms of various sizes;
* Of the 50 blogs, 27 are group blogging efforts, including more than one author. Some have a dozen or more writers;
* Of the 50 blogs, 13 are connected to law schools;
* Three of the blogs are tied to a major publishing house, American Lawyer Media.
* One of the blogs, LSAT Blog: Ace the LSAT, appears tied to a business enterprise, with ties to the legal and publishing fields.
Legal Schnauzer is the only blog on the list that is based in Alabama, and only four others are in the Southeast--three in Florida and one in Atlanta.
The only other truly independent blog on the list appears to be Grits for Breakfast, which focuses on the Texas criminal justice system and came in at No. 3. It is the work of Scott Henson, who describes himself as "a a former journalist turned opposition researcher/political consultant, public policy researcher and blogger."
Henson has been an associate editor at Texas Observer and has worked for the ACLU, the Sunshine Project for Police Accountability, and the Innocence Project of Texas. He has an impressive background, and if I am alone in his company on the Cision list . . . well, that seems like a pretty good place to be.
This much is clear: Independent voices in the legal blogosphere are rare. We are fortunate here at Legal Schnauzer to have readers who recognize the value in what we do. Whether their support is financial, moral, emotional, informational, or otherwise, it all is greatly appreciated.
For the record, it's probably safe to say that we are the only law blog that draws inspiration from the memory of a beloved pet. Our work is dedicated to Murphy Abigail Shuler (1993-2004), the miniature schnauzer who helped us survive some of the darkest days of our personal legal nightmare. Since starting this blog, I've heard from an extraordinary number of similar victims; they come from all corners of the United States.
Legal Schnauzer might be a one-man operation, but it's never been a one-man effort. Those who have pitched in to help have our deepest gratitude.